What Smart, Strategic Male Leaders Do Differently

“I had to do something that he would not forget…” – Rich

Waiting to enter an important meeting with her boss, Samantha (names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.) heard a man say, “It’s a good thing someone brought a woman along, in case we need coffee.” While her manager, Rich, also overheard the degrading remark, he didn’t say anything. Samantha was offended by the man’s insulting comment, and even more so by her boss’s silence, that she didn’t say a single word throughout the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, the man who made the comment asked Samantha’s boss, Rich, if they could count on his business. The boss responded, “Absolutely not. The decision maker here is my colleague Samantha (pointing to her) and you completely blew your chances to do business with us before the meeting even started.” With that, he stood up, motioned to his female colleague and walked out, forgoing a significant business opportunity on the table.

Outside the meeting, Rich told his colleague Samantha, “Had I said something to him about his remark right when he made it, it might have embarrassed him, but he’d likely do it again. I had to do something that he and everyone else would not forget. I had to hit him where he’d really feel it—in his business results and pocket.”

This is just one example of what smart and strategic men and leaders do differently. They understand that they have the power and  influence to intentionally advance women in the workplace, and that it’s not about being a knight in shining armor. They understand what Andy Woodfield, PwC partner said,

Fundamentally, men need to understand that progression for women is not a problem for women, it’s an opportunity for business.”

Christopher Mims, a technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal expressed a similar sentiment very simply:“Diversity = Dollars.”

Women don’t need our “help.” Intentionally advancing women is required for business and economic growth. Educated women are the most underutilized asset the world has for driving economic prosperity. With very low unemployment in the United States, an aging workforce, fewer entrants than retirees, tight immigration and an increased demand for skilled labor, we are facing an growing shortage of talent. Not leveraging the talents of women is a formula for failure.

Ernst & Young Global Limited found that 50 percent of business leaders said they need to do more to attract, retain, and promote women to leadership positions. Smart and strategic business leaders like Rich, understand the value and opportunity that advancing women in the workplace brings. They put their money where their mouth is, they lead by example in the way they intentionally recruit and work to retain women, they are both sponsors and mentors for women and they call out others like the man in the story who are inhibiting progress for all of us.

Since 70% of managers and leaders are men, YOU hold the power to make a difference for yourself, for your business, for our society, the economy and for women. Looking for some more specific ideas take a look here.

So, what about you? How are you also being smart and strategic when it comes to recruiting, retaining, and promoting women?